Lyme disease specialist to lecture March 18 at WCSU
Connecticut state entomologist to offer tips on tick control and Lyme protection

DANBURY, CONN. — Connecticut State Entomologist Dr. Kirby Stafford, an internationally recognized expert on Lyme disease and the ticks that carry it, will discuss the origins and nature of the disease and means to prevent its infectious spread to humans in a lecture on Thursday, March 18, at Western Connecticut State University.

“Fight the Bite: Ticks and Lyme Disease,” presented as part of the WestConn “Science at Night” lecture series, will be at 7 p.m. in Room 125 of the Science Building on the university’s Midtown campus, 181 White St. in Danbury. A reception with light refreshments will be held in the Science Building Atrium following the lecture. Admission will be free and the public is invited to attend.

Stafford, who holds a Ph.D. in medical/veterinary entomology from Texas A&M University, joined the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station as a staff scientist in 1987, and since 2004 has served as CAES chief scientist and vice director. His research specialization is the ecology and control of the black-legged tick species Ixodes scapularis, which transmits infectious agents that cause Lyme disease as well as human babesiosis and ehrlichiosis.

Stafford has collaborated with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and local health departments statewide to develop community-based projects designed to control tick populations and prevent the spread of Lyme disease. Under his leadership, CAES scientists have investigated a diverse range of integrated strategies for reducing the risk of tick-borne infection of humans, including landscape barriers, biological and natural controls, low-toxicity pesticides, deer population exclusion and reduction, and rodent pest management.

Stafford’s lecture will outline various methods to achieve effective personal protection and control tick infestations in and around the home. The entomologist also will offer historical and epidemiological background on how Lyme disease has emerged as a regional and national public health problem since its initial identification in Connecticut in 1975. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported a total of 28,921 confirmed Lyme disease cases nationwide in 2008, with the 2,738 cases in Connecticut representing nearly 10 percent of the national total.

Stafford has been the author or coauthor of more than 50 articles published in scientific journals. In 2004, he published a popular handbook on tick management to raise awareness among public health authorities, pest control professionals and the general public about practical strategies to contain the spread of Lyme disease and other infectious diseases borne and spread by ticks.

“An estimated three quarters of all Lyme disease cases are acquired from ticks picked up during activities around the home,” Stafford observed in the revised edition of the “Tick Management Handbook” released in 2007. “A few precautions and the management of infected ticks in the residential or recreational landscape can substantially reduce the risk of Lyme disease and other tick-associated illnesses.”

He noted in the handbook that public health education to disseminate information about prompt recognition of infection and effective antibiotic treatment must go hand in hand with integrated tick management strategies to address the problem of Lyme disease. “Landscape and host management practices combined with the judicious use of an acaricide (a pesticide applied to host animals to kill parasitic ticks) can provide excellent tick control with minimal risk or impact to the environment or other wildlife,” he wrote.

Stafford also is recognized as an expert in the biological control of flies and other pests that pose health risks for livestock and poultry management.

To view the “Tick Management Handbook,” access the publication online through the tab link on the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station home page at www.ct.gov/caes.
For more information on this lecture, contact Professor of Biological and Environmental Sciences Dr. Thomas Philbrick at philbrickt@wcsu.edu or (203) 837-8773, or the Office of University Relations at (203) 837-8486.

 


Western Connecticut State University offers outstanding faculty in a range of quality academic programs. Our diverse university community provides students an enriching and supportive environment that takes advantage of the unique cultural offerings of Western Connecticut and New York. Our vision: To be an affordable public university with the characteristics of New England’s best small private universities.

 

 

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